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Lessons and blessings of Ramadan

Md. Harun-Ur-Rashid | March 21, 2024 00:00:00

Devotees offering Dua and asking for forgiveness after Taraweeh salah — FE Photo

The importance of Ramadan is emphasised in the Quran and Hadith, highlighting its profound impact on a believer's life. In Surah Al-Baqarah (2:183), Allah says, "O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous." This verse underscores the purpose of fasting during Ramadan.

One notable Hadith mentions, "When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened, and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained" (Sahih Al-Bukhari). This signifies a unique opportunity for spiritual purification and seeking Allah's mercy.

Fasting during Ramadan involves abstaining from food, drink, and worldly desires from dawn to sunset. The Quran states, So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey - then an equal number of other days (2:185). The importance of Ramadan extends beyond religious boundaries, encompassing social, mental, and physical dimensions. Observing Ramadan effectively involves a combination of spiritual, social, and personal commitments and a holistic approach that encompasses various aspects of life. Here's a more detailed exploration:

1. Niyyah: Start with a sincere and clear intention to observe Ramadan for the sake of Allah. The intention is crucial, as it differentiates an act of worship from a routine activity.

2. Fasting Practices: Embrace the physical and spiritual aspects of fasting. Abstain not only from food and drink but also from negative behaviours such as gossip, lying, and impatience, to achieve a higher level of self-discipline and consciousness of one's actions.

3. Increased Worship: Dedicate more time to prayer and engage in additional acts of worship. This includes performing the five daily prayers with focus and humility and participating in the Tarawih prayers at night. Set personal goals for Quranic recitation to enhance your spiritual connection.

"And when My servants ask you concerning Me, indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me." (Quran 2:186)

"Whoever establishes prayers during the nights of Ramadan faithfully out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah's rewards (not for showing off), all his past sins will be forgiven." (Sahih al-Bukhari)

4. Charity and Generosity: Embrace the spirit of giving by engaging in acts of charity. Contribute to community initiatives, help those in need, and participate in charitable projects. Zakat, the obligatory almsgiving, is especially emphasised during Ramadan.

5. Self-Reflection and Repentance: Use this time for self-reflection and seeking forgiveness. Identify areas for personal improvement, repent for past mistakes, and make a commitment to positive changes.

6. Reflection and Repentance: Allocate time for self-reflection and introspection. Identify areas for personal growth, seek forgiveness for past mistakes, and make a sincere commitment to positive changes. Ramadan is an opportunity for spiritual renewal. "Whoever does not leave false speech and the acting upon it, Allah has no need for him to leave his food and drink." (Sahih al-Bukhari)

7. Iftar: Break the fast mindfully, expressing gratitude for the sustenance and avoiding excessive consumption. Share iftar with family, friends, and those in need.

8. Family and Community Engagement: Strengthen familial ties by actively participating in family activities and iftar gatherings. Contribute to community events and initiatives, fostering a sense of unity within the broader Muslim community.

9. Avoiding Negative Behaviours: Practice patience and self-control, refraining from negative behaviours. This includes avoiding arguments, gossip, and any actions that contradict the principles of Ramadan. Strive for emotional and mental discipline. "When one of you is fasting, he should abstain from indecent acts and unnecessary talk, and if someone begins an obscene conversation or tries to pick an argument, he should simply tell him, 'I am fasting'." (Sahih al-Bukhari)

10. Laylat al-Qadr: Increase devotion during the last ten nights of Ramadan, actively seeking Laylat al-Qadr. This special night, better than a thousand months, holds immense spiritual significance. Dedicate time to extra prayers, supplications, and acts of worship during this period. "The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to strive more in worship during the last ten nights of Ramadan than he did at any other time." (Sahih Muslim)

11. Sahur: Prioritise sahur to sustain your energy throughout the day. Include a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fluids.

12. Gratitude and Contentment: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude for the blessings in your life. Take time to appreciate the simple joys and express contentment with what you have.

Ramadan imparts valuable lessons to Muslims that extend beyond the month itself. Here are some key takeaways:

1. Discipline and Self-Control: Ramadan teaches the importance of discipline and self-control. Through fasting, Muslims learn to restrain physical desires, cultivating discipline that can be applied to various aspects of life.

2. Empathy and Compassion: Fasting fosters empathy for those who endure hunger regularly. This heightened awareness of others' struggles encourages acts of kindness, generosity, and compassion throughout the year.

3. Spiritual Reflection: Ramadan provides an opportunity for deep spiritual reflection. Muslims are encouraged to assess their actions, seek forgiveness, and strive for self-improvement.

4. Gratitude: The act of fasting instils gratitude for the blessings of sustenance and comfort. Muslims learn to appreciate the importance of gratitude, extending it to various aspects of their lives beyond the month of Ramadan.

5. Community and Unity: The communal aspects of Ramadan, such as shared iftar meals and communal prayers, highlight the significance of community and unity. Muslims learn the importance of supporting and connecting with one another.

6. Generosity and Charity: Ramadan emphasises giving to those in need through Zakat and voluntary acts of charity. Muslims learn the value of generosity, fostering a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate.

7. Patience and Resilience: Fasting requires patience and resilience, especially during long and challenging days. These qualities become valuable in facing life's difficulties with grace and perseverance.

8. Increased Connection with Allah: The heightened focus on prayer, Quranic recitation, and spiritual activities during Ramadan reinforces the importance of maintaining a strong connection with Allah.

9. Healthy Lifestyle Habits: Ramadan encourages a more mindful approach to eating and lifestyle. Muslims learn about the importance of a balanced diet, hydration, and overall well-being, which can lead to healthier habits throughout the year.

10. Appreciation for Time: Ramadan underscores the value of time, particularly the precious moments spent in worship, reflection, and acts of kindness.

11. Forgiveness and Reconciliation: The emphasis on seeking forgiveness during Ramadan teaches Muslims the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation. This extends not only to their relationship with Allah but also to interpersonal relationships.

Ramadan's teachings contribute significantly to the establishment of a just society by emphasising principles of justice, equality, and compassion. Here are some key aspects:

1. Social Justice through Zakat: Ramadan emphasises the concept of Zakat. This practice ensures a more equitable distribution of wealth within the community, addressing economic disparities and promoting social justice.

2. Empathy and Compassion: Fasting during Ramadan cultivates empathy for the less fortunate. This heightened awareness of others' struggles encourages individuals to actively seek ways to alleviate suffering and contribute to the well-being of those around them.

3. Community Solidarity: The communal aspects of Ramadan, including shared iftars and collective prayers, highlight community solidarity. This sense of unity promotes social cohesion and helps build a society where individuals support and care for one another.

4. Elimination of Prejudice: Regardless of social status or wealth, all Muslims are equal in their commitment to fasting and worship. This principle promotes the elimination of prejudice and discrimination in society.

5. Fairness and Honesty: Fasting instils a sense of integrity and self-discipline. These qualities contribute to the establishment of a just society where fairness and honesty are upheld.

6. Justice in Behavior and Speech: Ramadan encourages Muslims to refrain from negative behaviours such as gossip, lying, and arguments. Practising justice in one's behaviour and speech promotes a harmonious and just social environment.

7. Inclusivity and Tolerance: Ramadan teaches tolerance and inclusivity by bringing people of diverse backgrounds together in shared acts of worship and community events. This fosters a society that values diversity and respects the rights of individuals.

8. Accountability and Responsibility: Fasting instils a sense of personal accountability and responsibility. Applying these principles in societal contexts helps establish systems where individuals and institutions are held accountable for their actions.

9. Humanitarian Service: Engaging in acts of charity and volunteering during Ramadan extends beyond individual benefits. It promotes the idea of active humanitarian service, encouraging efforts to address societal needs and promote justice.

10. Promotion of Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Ramadan emphasises seeking forgiveness and reconciliation. Applying these principles in societal conflicts fosters a culture of understanding, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Ramadan is a sacred month offering Muslims a chance for spiritual growth, self-improvement, and increased devotion. The Quran and Hadith guide believers on the significance of fasting, promoting virtues like empathy, gratitude, and charity.

Md. Harun-Ur-Rashid is Assistant Vice President, Shahjalal Islami Bank Ltd, SME Investment Division, CHO, Dhaka. [email protected]

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